Describe two historical events that have influenced the development of ethical codes and regulations for nursing and healthcare research. Explain how each event has impacted ethical codes and regulations. Your initial posting should be at least 400 words in length and utilize at least one scholarly source other than the textbook, Melnyk, B. M. & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2015). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare: A guide to best practice (3rd ed.) Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health. ISBN: 978-1-4511-9094-6. Read Chapter 22.

Introduction

The development of ethical codes and regulations in nursing and healthcare research has been influenced by various historical events that have shaped the understanding and practice of ethics in these fields. This paper will discuss two significant historical events and analyze their impact on ethical codes and regulations. The first event is the Nuremberg trials, which followed World War II and exposed the egregious ethical violations committed by Nazi physicians. The second event is the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which involved the unethical treatment of African American men for the purposes of studying syphilis. These events have had lasting effects on the development of ethical codes and regulations, leading to increased protection of human research subjects and a greater emphasis on informed consent and beneficence.

Nuremberg Trials

The Nuremberg trials, which took place from 1945 to 1949, were a series of military tribunals held to prosecute prominent members of the Nazi regime for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other atrocities. These trials marked a significant turning point in the development of ethical codes and regulations for healthcare research, as they exposed the barbaric experiments conducted by Nazi physicians during World War II. One of the most notorious examples was the experimentation on concentration camp prisoners without their consent or regard for their well-being.

The Nuremberg Code was developed as a direct response to these ethical violations and served as the foundation for subsequent ethical codes and regulations. It emphasized the importance of informed consent, stating that the voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential and that the subject should have the legal capacity to give consent. This principle has since become a fundamental tenet of ethical research practice and is enshrined in modern ethical guidelines, such as the Belmont Report and the Declaration of Helsinki.

Furthermore, the Nuremberg trials introduced the concept of beneficence, which requires researchers to maximize benefits and minimize harms for research participants. This principle recognizes that the well-being of the individual should take precedence over scientific advancements or societal benefits. The Nuremberg trials revealed the dangers of unchecked scientific experimentation and emphasized the need for ethical considerations in healthcare research.

Tuskegee Syphilis Study

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study, conducted in Macon County, Alabama from 1932 to 1972, was a research study that aimed to investigate the natural progression of untreated syphilis in African American men. However, the study was conducted without the informed consent of the participants, who were unaware of their diagnosis and were not offered treatment even after the discovery of penicillin as an effective treatment for syphilis.

This unethical study had a profound impact on the development of ethical codes and regulations. It exposed the racial and ethical biases present in research and highlighted the need for safeguards to protect vulnerable populations. As a direct result of the Tuskegee Study, the National Research Act was passed in 1974, leading to the creation of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research.

The Belmont Report, published by the Commission in 1979, outlined the ethical principles and guidelines for the protection of human research subjects. These principles, which include respect for persons, beneficence, and justice, have since become the cornerstone of ethical research practice and are incorporated into various ethical codes and regulations. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study exposed the need for informed consent, respect for autonomy, and justice in research involving human subjects, particularly minority populations.

Conclusion

The Nuremberg trials and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study are two historical events that have significantly influenced the development of ethical codes and regulations for nursing and healthcare research. These events exposed the grave ethical violations committed by researchers and led to the establishment of principles such as informed consent, respect for autonomy, and beneficence. The Nuremberg Code and the Belmont Report, both direct outcomes of these events, have shaped modern ethical guidelines and regulations, ensuring the protection of vulnerable research subjects and emphasizing the importance of ethical considerations in healthcare research.